As the preseason began, South Carolina was supposed to be tied for second in the SEC in terms of returning starters. That is suddenly looking very, very unlikely.
The NCAA is investigating the living arrangements of several South Carolina football players at a Columbia hotel, according to two sources close to the situation.
Investigators in town this week have questioned players about staying at the Whitney Hotel, a seven-story property located along the Devine Street shopping corridor in the Shandon area.
None of the players named in The State's story -- Weslye Saunders, Jarriel King and Travian Robertson -- are headliners on the Gamecocks' roster, but King and Robertson were expected to start on the offensive line (blind side) and defensive line, respectively. You'll remember the name of Saunders, a potential starter at tight end, from earlier stories about the NCAA investigation in Columbia.
As you can see here, the hotel isn't exactly what you would call a typical college living experience. The State figures it would take at least $355 more a month than the school's rent allowance for off-campus athletes -- if two people shared the suite at the extended-stay rate. It's not clear if that price would include the complimentary limousine service and athletic club passes.
There are still no indications, yet anyway, that South Carolina played with ineligible players a la Reggie Bush. But if you're looking at losing the eligibility of three members of your two-deep before the season begins, there's only so much comfort you can draw from holding onto the past.
Keep an eye on this and other Gamecock stories at SB Nation's Garnet And Black Attack.